Lawmakers finalizing rules for sports betting in Louisiana as session nears end

Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Sports betting is inching closer to being a reality in Louisiana as lawmakers finalize several bills governing how it will work and where the revenue will be directed.

Voters in nearly all Louisiana parishes voted in favor of legalized sports betting in November. Now, a number of bills are making their way though the legislature and toward Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk that will set rules on which live-action sports games will be allowed in the gambling, where the wagers can happen and how much the activity will be taxed.

Sen. Rick Ward’s bill outlining the different programs that revenue is going to be going towards was passed out of the House Appropriations Committee Monday morning.

It is one of the last debates in the sports betting journey.

The bill lays out the percentage of the revenue that will be going to different programs including behavioral health, early childhood education and the local parishes:

  • 2% to the behavioral health and wellness fund
  • 25%, not exceed $10 million to early childhood education fund
  • 12% to each parish
  • 1% to sports wagering purse supplemental fund
  • ~60% to state general fund

“I think it was really sort of an obligation by the legislature because it is something that our constituents voted in in such an overwhelming way that it was really on us to come in and figure out the best plan of action for all the rules and regulations,” Sen. Ward said.

A tax and regulation bill by Rep. John Stefanski is headed to the Governor’s desk. The rules state there will be 20 licenses awarded for providers to have the digital betting option. There was a lot of debate over if betting should be allowed on phones and the kiosks that will be allowed in any restaurant or bar with a Class A liquor license. The lottery will hire a provider to distribute the licenses. One change through the process could bring sports betting sooner.

“Senator [Page] Cortez added the language to add a provisional license in his bill which means that we may see sports betting earlier than we originally expected because an element of it is you must have a full sports book built out in your licensed facility. Well that’s going to take some time,” Rep. John Stefanski said.

Sen. Cortez’s bill is left to be approved again after some slight changes and Sen. Ward’s bill allocating the money must be debated by the House.

They have until Thursday at six p.m. to wrap up passage of the bills.

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